(Don't) Do It Again: Attacking Jerry Brown's Record

Jeffrey Lord, in an article offering attack ad fodder to a number of GOP candidates, gives Meg Whitman advice on the best line of attack against Jerry Brown in the three weeks left before the election: attack his record as Governor. It's so crazy it just might work!

Given his record, it should be easy for Meg Whitman to defeat the gent who the late Mike Royko labeled "Governor Moonbeam." But the last time Jerry Brown served as California's governor was thirty years ago, and memories -- even bad ones -- fade over time. So it'd be a good time for Ms. Whitman to remind Californians of Brown's other nickname -- Governor Medfly -- and how he earned it.

In 1980 California was beset simultaneously with Brown sitting in the governor's chair and an infestation of the Mediterranean fruit fly (the two creatures being easily confused). On November 24, 1980, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the state's effort at medfly eradication inadequate. Gov. Medfly fumbled and fussed, working anxiously to avoid using environmentally unfriendly pesticides against the environmentally destructive fly. Eight months later -- on July 10, 1981, after threats of boycotts of California agricultural products came from Japan and Mexico -- Brown finally ordered aerial spraying. State ag officials used malathion, a very powerful chemical. But because the infestation had spread so widely by the time Brown acted, the spray had to be applied across a huge area, close to many populated places. The malathion promptly melted the paint off of hundreds of cars. Californians may want to vote "green", but not if they have green-painted cars.

Lord doesn't even mention Brown's biggest vulnerability from the old days: Rose Bird, and the legacy of judicial activism that she represents. In fact, Brown's conduct as State Attorney General has been a big flashing neon sign signaling that he will happily use the courts to achieve far left goals that he could never win through the normal political process (i.e. elections and legislation). He failed to defend against the Prop. 8 lawsuit, leading to the anomalous sight of private litigants acting on behalf of the state. He has participated in a willful neglect of California's death penalty measures (including a failure to stockpile parts of the death chamber's chemical cocktail), resulting in the de facto extension of the state's death penalty moratorium. And so on. That's the thing about Jerry Brown. Like any professional politician, he's skilled at create a hub-bub of activity, but his real talent lies in knowing when not to act - and knowing that the state's MSM will never call him out on his nonfeasance.

But, here's the thing that's frustrating: I don't see any indication that Meg Whitman is expending much effort on making these points. Instead, she's running an (admittedly admirable) positive campaign about reviving the state and setting the stage for future growth. Great stuff, but that's only good enough for a dead heat, and a dead heat would seem to benefit Brown more than Whitman.

For those of us over 40, Jerry Brown is a familiar figure, and his negatives equally familiar. But, many of California's voters are not over 40, and were not around during Brown's previous reign of error. They are instead left with the image Brown likes to project: that of a competent "public servant" - and Brown, for all of his faults, is a very smart and capable man - with a long resume. He's also got a ton of union money, cover from the state MSM, and Gloria Allred's maid who, God help us, has emerged as a symbol of something or other. In other words, without a timely reminder of what a Brown administration once was, we could easily be looking at what one will be.

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search